Orlando City SC’s winning streak ended at six, thanks to goals scored by Josef Martinez (penalty kick) and Ezequiel Barco (his second of the season, both in the last three games), and a late-game meltdown from the people in purple — both on the field and in the stands.
Uri Rosell is yet to start a game for Orlando, but his introduction at halftime of Sunday’s game made exactly the impact for which he was signed: after chasing Atlanta, and the ball, around the field like chickens with their heads cut off — and falling 2-0 behind after 31 minutes — Rosell brought a sense of control to the Lions.
As for Atlanta, Tata Martino’s side took six points from three games in the span of eight days this week and sit atop the Supporters’ Shield standings after 11 games as a result. They’ve dropped all of five points from their last 10 games and, back in their customary 3-4-3 system, appear capable of scoring three or four against anyone in the league.
Los Angeles FC 2-2 New York City FC
If you’ve got 20 or so minutes of free time to fill over the next 24 or 48 hours, do yourself a favor and watch the condensed replay of LAFC’s thrilling, end-to-end, chance-filled draw with NYCFC on Sunday. While there were four goals scored in the end, it could have just as well finished 0-0 and made its case as the most entertaining game this season.
LAFC are yet to truly establish a central midfield capable of anything other than chance creation — which they’re really good at — so there’s a better than great chance most of their games will have you on the edge of your seat for 90 minutes.
NYCFC, on the other hand, are tactically effective chameleons in just about any type of game, but they’re undoubtedly most comfortable with David Villa front and center on countless counter-attacks. Patrick Vieira will be pleased to have seen his side come back to rescue a late road point after suffering an embarrassing 4-0 defeat to the New York Red Bulls last week.
At what point is it no longer "early" for #TFC? Coming up on the 1/3 mark of the season in a couple weeks. The East is NOT the West. I know, #CCL and all that, which is great. At some point, though, they gotta get 1) heathy, 2) out of their own way. #NEvTOR
We’re not talking about TFC missing the playoffs — we’re still three or four months away from that feeling like a distinct possibility — but at what point is the hole out of which they must climb simply too deep to even pretend the likes of Atlanta, NYCFC and RBNY are within reach? The no. 4 seed feels like their new best-case scenario.
Saturday’s loss to New England was not only a gut-punch of three points dropped, but Sebastian Giovinco was sent off for this very dumb decision mere seconds after bringing the Reds back to 3-2.
Again, it’s still May, and Jozy Altidore will be back before July rolls around (don’t forget, he scored zero goals before July 31 two seasons ago before finishing the regular season with 10 and helping TFC to their first MLS Cup final appearance), but other key injuries (Drew Moor, Justin Morrow, Nick Hagglund and Eriq Zavaleta) have forced Greg Vanney into playing Michael Bradley and Jason Hernandez at center back the last few games.
Something just feels… off after their oh-so-close run through CONCACAF Champions League.
Columbus Crew SC 3-0 Chicago Fire
A picture is worth a thousand words…
Elsewhere in MLS
Vancouver Whitecaps 2-2 Houston Dynamo (Friday) — HIGHLIGHTS
Minnesota United 1-3 San Jose Earthquakes — HIGHLIGHTS
Montreal Impact 0-2 Philadelphia Union — HIGHLIGHTS
FC Dallas 3-2 LA Galaxy — HIGHLIGHTS
Colorado Rapids 1-2 New York Red Bulls — HIGHLIGHTS
Real Salt Lake 3-2 D.C. United — HIGHLIGHTS
Portland Timbers 1-0 Seattle Sounders — HIGHLIGHTS
The USMNT connection was on point Friday night as Orlando City SC toppled the Philadelphia Union 2-0 on the road.
Dom Dwyer opened the scoring in the 38th minute on a beautiful pass from fellow US international Sacha Kljestan that put the visitors through. 32-year-old Kljestan, with acres of space in midfield, sucked three guys towards him just in time to dink a pass over the back line perfectly for a streaking Dwyer. One-on-one with Philadelphia goalkeeper Andre Blake, the 27-year-old striker slotted the finish inside the far corner for the opening goal.
Perhaps the most fascinating and skillful part of the goal is how Dwyer collects Kljestan’s pass…off his back. A pinpoint turn at the point of contact controls the pass perfectly into his path on goal, and allows Dwyer to seamlessly transition from his run to attack Blake and the net.
Dwyer’s start to the season for Orlando has been prolific. After missing the first three games of the year with a hamstring injury, he’s now scored four goals in three games, proving the difference in each matchup. Kljestan himself has a goal and two assists so far this season.
Orlando City’s win pushed them towards the early-season upper echelon of Eastern Conference teams, moving them to a double-digit point total, six points back of the leaders NYCFC.
Orlando City SC and the Portland Timbers are undoubtedly two of the most confounding teams after the first month of the 2018 MLS season, and that statement rings even truer following the two side’s five-goal thriller at Orlando City Stadium on Sunday.
Orlando came out on top, erasing a 2-0 deficit during a seven-minute barrage inside the game’s final 10 minutes, but neither side put forth a strong enough 90-minute performance to give any indication they’re trending upward. Dom Dwyer scored the game-winning goal, his third of the young season, in the 87th minute.
Five minutes earlier, Sacha Kljestan made it 2-2 from the penalty spot after Dwyer won the penalty — in shall we say, controversial fashion — just two minutes after rookie Chris Mueller bagged his first MLS goal to halve the Lions’ deficit.
Here’s the good news for Portland: for roughly an hour, they completely dominated and controlled in a proactive manner — that’s to say, pressing and possession.
Here’s the bad news for Portland: head coach Giovanni Savarese made a pair of subs in the ensuing seven minutes that changed everything good his side had done for 60 minutes — Lawrence Olum (defensive midfielder/center back) and Dairon Asprilla (winger), for Cristhian Paredes (box-to-box midfielder) and Samuel Armenteros (forward). It was extremely negative and immediately gave away Portland’s stranglehold on the game.
Those first 60 minutes also highlighted just how badly Orlando are missing an influential midfielder capable of dictating tempo, circulating possession and driving forward. It wasn’t until Portland essentially conceding two-thirds of the field before Kljestan and Yoshi Yotun began to combine anywhere near the final third.
Uri Rosell is yet to make his debut in purple, and he should solve a lot of Orlando’s midfield problems and allow Kljestan the freedom he needs to do all of the above. Until he returns from injury, though, expect a couple-few more Jekyl-and-Hyde performances from Jason Kreis’s side.
It’s almost as if a marketing company drew it up for Major League Soccer.
LA Galaxy vs. LAFC — 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday
League legends LA Galaxy will tangle with fancy new boys LAFC in a match everyone hopes will become one of the best rivalries in the country.
And oh, by the way, one of the league’s best ever imports could debut in the form of new Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The subplots extend even beyond the hopeful rivalry and Zlatan. Consider:
— You have the Dos Santos brothers on the Galaxy staring down El Tri teammate Carlos Vela.
— Both teams have legendary American coaches in Bob Bradley (LAFC) and Sigi Schmid.
— LAFC hasn’t lost! Sure, it’s only two matches, but Bradley’s expansion club is thriving early.
Toronto FC vs. Real Salt Lake — 8 p.m. ET Friday
The winless champs host a Mike Petke-led bench which hasn’t exactly found its footing despite its sleeper status before the season. Petke was once teammates with TFC boss Greg Vanney, and the two will match wits at a raucous BMO Field on a fitting match to start the weekend.
The Reds will also have to focus on the present despite the knowledge that Tuesday brings one of the biggest home matches in club history: the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal against Club America.
Orlando City vs. New York Red Bulls — 1 p.m. ET Saturday
Sacha Kljestan is acclimating just fine to life in Orlando, but the Red Bulls’ latest traded captain welcomes his former club to town with a point to prove (especially given New York’s continued success in weathering the trading of said captains Kljestan and Dax McCarty).
Columbus Crew vs. Vancouver Whitecaps — 3 p.m. ET Saturday
We’re sure MLS didn’t play to have its four top matches kick off the weekend, but we’ll have our eyes peeled early Saturday. If it wasn’t such a hike for the ‘Caps, we might call this the game of the weekend. The two sides have played a combined eight matches with one loss this season, and neither is particularly open at the back. With Kendall Waston righteously dodging a suspension, it’s on Gyasi Zardes and Co. to find a way past the visitors.
Chicago Fire vs. Portland Timbers — 6 p.m. ET Saturday
Minnesota United vs. Atlanta United — 8 p.m. ET Saturday
San Jose Earthquakes vs. NYCFC — 8 p.m. ET Saturday
Houston Dynamo vs. New England — 8:30 p.m. ET Saturday
Sporting KC vs. DC United — 8:30 p.m. ET Saturday
Colorado Rapids vs. Philadelphia Union — 9 p.m. ET Saturday
Seattle Sounders vs. Montreal Impact — 10 p.m. ET Saturday